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Snowden and the Right

Snowden and the Right

Here’s something I’ll certainly be keeping one eye fixed on as the Edward Snowden story advances: the degree to which the American right takes him up as a cause célèbre. They’re up a tree either way. If they do, then they’re obviously guilty of the rankest hypocrisy imaginable, because we all know that if Snowden had come forward during George W. Bush’s presidency, the right-wing media would by now have sniffed out every unsavory fact about his life (and a hefty mountain of fiction) in an effort to tar him. If they don’t, then they’ve lost an opportunity to sully Barack Obama. Since they like smearing Obama a lot more than they care about hypocrisy, my guess is that they will lionize him, as some already are. But in the long run, doing that will only expose how deep the rifts are between the national-security right and the libertarian right, and this issue will only extend and intensify those disagreements.

First out of the gate Sunday was Glenn Beck, who tweeted in the late afternoon, not too long after The Guardian posted the interview with Snowden: “I think I have just read about the man for which I have waited. Earmarks of a real hero.” Shortly thereafter, another: “Courage finally. Real. Steady. Thoughtful. Transparent. Willing to accept the consequences. Inspire w/Malice toward none.” And two hours after that: “The NSA patriot leaker is just yet another chance for America to regain her moral compass and set things right. No red or blue JUST TRUTH.”

Beck, I will concede, has a degree of credibility on the red/blue issue. He criticizes Republicans sometimes. Even so, it amounts to a speck of dust when set against his near-daily sermons (for years now) about liberal and Democratic fascism. So I wonder about the degree to which Beck would have hopped up to throw rose petals at young Snowden’s feet if he’d come forward in this way under the Bush administration.

About Beck, we can wonder. About the others, I think there is no reason to wonder at all. If Snowden’s parents had got about the business of conceiving him five or six years before they did, and the progeny had taken up this line of work in 2007 or 2008, it’s obvious that The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com, two right-wing outfits that Sunday evening were triumphantly bannering Snowden’s comments and the National Security Agency’s announced investigation into the matter, would have been savaging the guy. By close of business today, the rumors about his sexuality would be rampant.

They just want any cudgel they can find to beat Obama over the head, so Snowden suits their purposes for now. But let’s see where they go on this one over the long haul. On Sunday morning, Sen. Rand Paul called for a Supreme Court–levelchallenge to the NSA, in the form of a class-action suit, to end this data-mining. How’s that going to sit with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Reince Priebus, and the moneymen behind the Republican Party? Not very well.

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